Mumbai, Aug 9: A PIL in Bombay High Court has challenged a Maharashtra government's bill increasing salaries and pension of sitting and former MLAs as well as ministers, citing financial burden on the state.
The bill raised the monthly salaries of sitting MLAs from Rs 1.5 lakh to Rs 2 lakh, while awarding the ministers and ex-MLAs increased pension to match the one drawn by Chief Secretary and other senior IAS officers, said the PIL filed by activist Ketan Tirodkar.
The PIL, filed yesterday, is slated to come up for hearing in due course. Notably, there are 288 Assembly constituencies in the state and the elections since the formation of Maharashtra have sent more than 2,000 MLAs in the House so far.
There will be 288 added every five years, said the PIL. Citing financial crunch faced by the state, the PIL said Maharashtra's debt burden stood at Rs 3.79 lakh crore as on March 31, 2016, the highest among all the Indian states.
It is followed by Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, according to the data compiled by RBI on total outstanding liabilities of state governments, the PIL said. The state earned the dubious distinction in 2011 with a debt of Rs 2.30 lakh crore, dislodging Uttar Pradesh (Rs 2.29 lakh crore) that was leading the list of debt-ridden states for a long time.
The gap between the two has since steadily widened, according to the petition. Maharashtra's salary burden increased from Rs 22,879 crore in 2007 to Rs 79,941 crore in 2016. The pension payments jumped from Rs 4,682 crore to Rs 24,730 crore in the same period, while the interest burden on loans taken by the state government increased from Rs 12,932 crore in 2007 to Rs 28,220 crore in 2016, the petition submitted.
Even as the debt burden rises, the cash-starved government will have to shell out another Rs 15,000-20,000 crore for implementation of the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations to 19 lakh-odd employees, the PIL contended.
According to the petitioner, every child born in Maharashtra has to bear the burden of Rs 26,185 as against Rs 14,000 in Uttar Pradesh.
The petition urged the high court to direct the BJP-led state government to set aside the bill, raising the salaries and pension of the MLAs and former legislators of the state, passed on August 5, 2016.
It also urged for a direction to the government to refrain from putting any extra burden on the state treasury hereafter on account of any additional benefits to the peoples' representatives.